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That time I wanted to pass myself off as Joyce Carol Oates #TBT

I submitted my first piece of writing when I was seventeen, a story about my first job, working at the employee cafeteria at General Telephone where my mother was a dispatcher. Rolling the 20# white bond backed by a sheet of thin blue carbon paper into my Smith Corona, I typed it out slowly, carefully, on a piece of erasable paper—and mailed it off to Cosmopolitan along with a cover letter. Not just to any editor at Cosmo, by the way, I sent it directly to Helen Gurley Brown. 

The piece itself, meant to be comical, was full of clumsy attempts at self-effacing humor.  I strived for a similar tone in the cover letter I addressed to Brown, completely clueless that the high powered editor in chief wasn’t the one reading unsolicited manuscripts. After I signed off I added the following PS. I could have said I was Joyce Carol Oates. What I thought that would accomplish I can’t imagine. That an unsatisfactory submission would get published because of a lame joke? 

No surprise, in the SASE I’d …

Sam Querrey: My interview with the man of the moment

Early summer means Wimbledon when millions of us—our rackets long outdated, zipped into cases, stuffed into hall closets—tune back into the game of tennis. I used to love tennis, or the idea of it anyway. Tennis whites bringing out the brown on arms and legs, the players and their idiosynchratic grunts and groans. The 70's were the heyday of my tennis ardor, Breakfast at Wimbledon a yearly tradition. The romantic possibilities of Chris Evert and Jimmy Connors. Billy Jean King and Martina Navrátilová. The sex appeal of Ilya Nastase. Arthur Ashe followed by the long-haired Bjorn Borg looking like Peter Frampton. McEnroe and his anger management problems. Those were the days I played it too, poorly, the sweet spot of victory ever elusive. 

Eventually I let it go, but still Wimbledon calls every year. The names familiar with year after year of victories, Pete Sampras, Roger Federer, the Williams sisters, Novak Djokovic. This year the name on everyone's lips is the California tennis player Sam Querrey. Querrey who shocked the tennis world by knocking out Djokovic—the winner of this year's French Open—in the early rounds. Hearing the news I did a double take. 

I interviewed Sam Querrey back in 2008 when he was living out in the exurbs of L.A. and I was writing freelance pieces monthly for the Westlake Village based 805 Living magazine.

The interview was for a regular back page item called P.S. where I asked local celebs a few puff piece questions. Querrey had just turned pro and, no surprise here, it was clear from our conversation that his passion for the game exceeded anything else, although he did say if he could do anything he'd "be in an awesome rock band". 

Querrey was particularly stoked over a game he'd played against James Blake, telling me his Most Memorable Day was playing 'James Blake—one of the top ten players in the world—on the center court at the Pacific Life Open at Indian Wells.' 

Just a hunch but I'm thinking that Most Memorable Day has been lobbed into oblivion.

A bit more of the Q&A ...

What would surprise people about you? 
I'm a whiz when I get a karaoke microphone in my hand

Pet peeve? Right-handed people who wear their watch on their right hand and slow golfers.

Book on your nightstand? The World is Flat (Thomas L. Friedman, The Winner's Mind (Allen Fox)

Dream Day: Playing tennis in front of 50,000 people and loving it. Then afterward, go golfing or hang out at the beach with my friends.

Congratulations Sam, it looks like your Dream Day has come true in aces! Except for the part about golfing or hanging out with friends at the beach later. But that's ok. I have a hunch that golf and the beach are the last things on your mind right at this moment, and that you'd put a whole new spin on that Most Memorable Day question.

You're in the sweet spot! Enjoy it.


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